Why can't the UK vote in the Eurovision 2023 semi-finals? Liverpool song contest voting rules explained

UK fans will finally have the chance to have their say in the second Eurovision semi-final on Thursday

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The Eurovision Song Contest has finally arrived and fresh off the back of its first semi-final, the excitement and buzz for the competition could not be any higher. Yet for many of fans watching on from Liverpool's M&S Bank Arena and the comfort of their own home were left puzzled as to why they could not vote for their favourite musicians.

Tuesday night's spectacle saw groundbreaking performances from the likes of Israel's Noa Kirel and hotly-tipped favourite to win Loreen of Sweden. Joining them as the first batch of Grand Finalists are Croatia, Moldova, Switzerland, Finland, the Czech Republic, Portugal, Serbia and Norway, while Ireland, Malta, Latvia, Azerbaijan and the Netherlands saw their Eurovision hopes fade.

Ahead of Thursday's semi-final, will the UK finally be allowed to vote - and why are they not involved in this stage of the Eurovision Song Contest? Here is everything you must know.

Why were voters in the UK not allowed to vote in the first Eurovision semi-finals?

Eurovision 2021 semi-final 1 voting was not open for UK viewers - Adobe / M&S Bank ArenaEurovision 2021 semi-final 1 voting was not open for UK viewers - Adobe / M&S Bank Arena
Eurovision 2021 semi-final 1 voting was not open for UK viewers - Adobe / M&S Bank Arena

Traditionally in Eurovision, the countries who do not take part in the semi-finals are not allowed to vote. Voting is limited to only the countries that are taking part in that particular heat.

The UK enter this year's song contest in the Grand Final stage, which is voted on by viewers of every single participating country. It takes place on Saturday (14 May) and will be broadcast live on BBC One from 8pm with the voting window opening for 15-minutes after the last performance has ended.

Can people in the UK vote during the second Eurovision semi-final?

Fear not Eurovision fans in the UK, as yes you may have been left frustrated not being able to vote on the first semi-final, but that all changes for when the second takes place on Thursday, 11 May. This is because the UK have been included in the allocation.

Even though Mae Muller is still yet to perform, BBC viewers on home soil will finally have their say on proceedings at the M&S Bank Arena. This is because the country is included as one of the traditional 'Big 5' - or in this case 'Big 6' - who have been given voting privileges. For the first semi-final, outside of the participating countries, only France, Germany and Italy were allowed to vote, while for the second it will be Spain, Ukraine and the United Kingdom. These are also the countries that are automatically entered at the Grand Final stage, see full list below:

  • United Kingdom (Host)
  • Ukraine (Current Champion)
  • Spain
  • Italy
  • Germany
  • France

Why are the UK not involved in the Eurovision semi-finals?

The UK has bypassed the semi-final stage because it has automatically qualified for the Eurovision Grand Final. This is because it is the host of this year's competition.

As per official Eurovision rules: "The so-called ‘Big Five’ (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom) and the Host Country automatically qualify for the Grand Final. This year, both Ukraine and the United Kingdom automatically qualify for the Grand Final, as the United Kingdom is hosting the Contest on behalf of Ukraine who won in 2022."

How to vote in Eurovision 2023

Viewers in all participating countries can vote for their winner, as well as favourite song, using the official Eurovision App or go directly to the Eurovision Song Contest website which is the new voting hub for the competition.

Peoplecan also vote by telephone and/or SMS. The Interactive Voice Response (IVR) voting number for the UK is 09015 22 52 -01 up to 09015 22 52 -26. For SMS, text 6 22 52-01 up to 6 22 52-26.